I love baking at Christmas time. Even though it’s sunny and warm outside, there’s something about the smells of the festive season that really get me. Maybe it’s because I spent many a Christmas in North America where warming baked goods and eggnog were staples for this time of year…
So this is what I do a few weeks before Christmas – I put on the Christmas music, decorate the tree, write my Christmas cards and start creating my Christmas menu. And edible gifts have to part of it every time! This is the first time I’ve baked gingerbread and I must say it turned out pretty well. This recipe is from a 2008 issue of Delicious magazine and is a winner. These gingerbread men are really simple to make and lots of fun – the kids can join in too!
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125g unsalted butter, softened
1/2 firmly packed cup (100g) brown sugar
1/2 cup (115g) golden syrup
1 egg yolk
2 1/2 cups (450g) plain flour
1 tbs ground ginger (1 used 1.5 tbs because I love the ginger a bit stronger)
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 cup (150g) icing sugar, sifted
Silver cachous, to decorate
Preheat oven to 180°C. Line 2 large baking trays. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar using electric beaters until thick. Beat in syrup and yolk, then use a spoon to fold in flour, ginger, spice and soda until a smooth dough. Form into a disc and cover in plastic wrap. Chill for 30 minutes.
Bring dough to room temperature, then divide in 2. Roll out pieces between baking paper to 5mm thick. Use a gingerbread man cutter (we used a 7cm and a 12cm) to cut shapes. Space out on trays (you may need to bake in batches). Bake for 10 minutes or until golden. Using a skewer, quickly make 5mm holes at the top of the warm biscuits to thread ribbon. Cool completely on a rack.
Stir icing sugar with 2-3 tsp warm water to make a stiff icing. Transfer to a piping bag with a small plain nozzle. (Or place mixture in a snap-lock bag, push icing into a corner, then snip off corner). Pipe 3 small dots down each biscuit, then press in cachous and thread ribbon in holes. The biscuits will keep in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
What are your favourite things to bake at Christmas time?